It’s been a hard month. I’m not sure I’m ready to write about it, to be honest. Looking down the barrel of an unknown illness is not exactly the most fun thing in the world. There’s been a lot of doctors scratching their heads, and blood tests.
But there has been bright spots – I am now officially 2e myself, with a confirmed ADHD diagnosis. And that bit has been wonderful (apart from the mild hiccough of prescribed medicines with a high chance of pushing me beyond the veil – hello unusual allergies!) There is an amazing relief to be found in describing difficulties and events from the past and having doctors nod their head and say, “That’s typical“.
I am now more aware of my children’s difficulties, and how to help them avoid the problems I have faced. I also know of the pitfalls ahead, which I’d thought of as personal failings – nope! Instead, typical 2e is – me. And the fear I know every parent faces, “Am I raising them right?“, now comes with a few more signposts. There is real hope.
It’s also been hard to acknowledge that I am ill with an unknown illness. It’s hard for an active person like myself feeling exhausted after a 5 minute walk without knowing why. To feel frustrated at opportunities that I can’t take up, and the events that my kids don’t get to see.
It’s also caused me to re-evaluate our homeschool. And yes, there have been moments when I wondered if I should send my kids to school. But truthfully? Homeschooling is far less stressful than the alternative – fighting the school system for accommodations for my two wildly out-of-the-norm children.
But it has made me rethink how I do things. I have had to teach the kids how to do things that I used to do effortlessly. And that has been a blessing in disguise. For whether I knew it or not, I was underestimating the abilities of my children.
My son was actually really happy when I talked him through how to stack a dishwasher, and my daughter was ecstatic at ‘helping’ mum sort the washing and learning how to turn on a washing machine (which I must admit did surprise me). My son is now confident enough to be able to make himself food, which was less about his ability and more about worrying about doing something wrong, as my allergies are serious enough that we have to be very careful with handling food that may be cross-contaminated.
In many ways, I have been most worried about these soft skills – life skills that will be essential when they are adults – that neither child has been able to ‘just pick up’ without a gentle guiding hand. But not having an adult able to immediately intervene or deciding that ‘oh well, I’ll just do it myself’ has been good for them. (And I’m hoping that my own ADHD impatience will also be mitigated by my own treatment plan as well). That confidence has been wonderful to see.
It’s also lead me to decide to restructure the way we homeschool. So my daughter now has to do ‘formal’ lessons on her tablet with me supervising, and my son has to spend time doing more formal science work, and reading. As much a I love it, strewing only works when I have the energy to strew! Instead, I have spent my convalescent time finding apps for my daughter that stretch her abilities and help her work on her weaknesses. She likes ‘games’ and learns best that way – and she really enjoys playing maths puzzle games with mummy and daddy.
My son really likes the structure (not unexpected that). And there are still many hours for them to explore and do what they love – which frankly is watching people play video games! Though even that has value – my son’s interpretive language skills have grown enormously with listening and re-listening to people playing video games. And he loves building his own games in Scratch. Something my daughter is now starting to do too. And with slightly more limits on what he is supposed to be doing, he has been able to focus more on his other love – mathematics. So now he has time to read through all the maths books we have lying around, and he’s been enjoying reading, “The Book of Nothing” by John D. Barrow. (One of my old maths-and-physics-for-layman books that I have accumulated over the years). For all of us, being able to change focus really is a problem, and having hard rules on what we are all allowed to do (yes, that includes me!) has really helped us to widen our focus from just immediate obsessions.
I’m also having to work around being less mobile – and becoming more pro-active in inviting people over and setting up regular playdates. Something that has been difficult with illness in the house. One of the good things about having doctors scratching their heads is the discovery that whatever I have is not contagious!
I’m also really looking forward to starting our first, real experiment lab with the delivery of our chemistry kit of 250 experiments (CHEM C2000 Intermediate Chemistry Kit for the curious), and I think I can lure a few kids over to join in as well. It’s a real experiment kit too – and walks us through a mid-highschool chemistry curriculum.
Sometimes it’s good to have time to rethink how we do things. And this last month? I’ve had a lot of time to do that!